OBJECTIVE To assess the effect of resumption of second line drugs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that flared after treatment discontinuation.
METHODS RA patients were studied whose RA flared up after discontinuation of second line treatment while being in remission and who received a second course of the drug. Disease activity parameters were prospectively assessed at the time of treatment discontinuation, during the period when the disease flared up, and three months thereafter. Furthermore the medical charts were reviewed at 12 months after treatment resumption.
RESULTS There were 51 patients included in the study: 25 patients treated with antimalarial drugs, 10 with parenteral gold, four with d-penicillamine, eight with sulphasalazine, two with azathioprine, and two with methotrexate. Disease activity parameters showed significant improvement within three months of treatment resumption, but remained significantly worse when compared with that measured before treatment discontinuation. Within three months 47% of the patients fulfilled 20% response criteria. Disease activity 12 months after treatment resumption was considered to be absent in 35%, mild in 43%, and moderate or active in 22% of the patients. In four (8%) patients the resumed treatment was stopped because of lack of efficacy. Side effects were recorded in four patients, which did not result in treatment discontinuation.
CONCLUSIONS Resumption of second line drugs in RA patients whose disease flared up after discontinuation of treatment is effective and safe in most patients. Half of the patients responded within three months after resumption of the second line drug.
- rheumatoid arthritis
- treatment resumption
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